Company Letters

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Mark P.
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Company Letters

Post by Mark P. »

This query relates to mid C18th British Infantry organisation and I can't help feeling I should know the answer.

An infantry Regiment has 10 companies:

They are Colonel's, Lt Colonel's, Major's and Captains companies in order of seniority.
The companies are also 'numbered' by letter A, B, C etc which is also used for marking items of equipment.

Now the bit I'm not sure about is which letter designations relate to which companies, especially the grenadier company.

I wouldn't want to plaster all my kit with rack numbers and company letters then find out I'd picked the Grenadier company's letter by mistake.

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m300572
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Post by m300572 »

I'll try and remember to check Chandlers Warfare in the Age of Marlborough at home tonight - it's my current read and I think its got some details of lettering and numbering.

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Redders
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Post by Redders »

Was this ever resolved?

Only asking as I'd like to mark my kit with the 'Correct' Grenadier markings.

I'd kind of assumed (please don't shoot me) that the Grenadiers would be the 1st Co. ????
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Mark P.
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Post by Mark P. »

The first company would be the colonels company and they have a colour and ensigns etc. The grenadier companies were only added in 1680's ish and do not have ensigns if i remeber correctly so organisationally they should be the most junior I think. But never did get to thte bottom of it.
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Post by Kittens-Pedro »

Technically speaking, I'm speaking from knowledge of the army later on (1790ish - 1815ish) but...

A company was lead by a captain, and under the captain would be 2 lieutenants and 4 ensigns.

There would then be two majors under a lieutenant colonel who would command a battalion (10 companies)

Regiments which contained two battalions and were all together commanded by a full colonel.

Now, within this... the bizarre problem arises that the companies were named A, B, C... etc. and you will hear mention of "A company" but you will also hear mention of a grenadier company... not particularly associated with a letter? Please don't quote me on that because I'm almost sure it can't be true, but... it just seems strange.

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Post by Redders »

Are we aure the Letter thing isn't a modern variation on what used to be numerical?

I only ask as some written references i've seen all relate to numerical companies. The musket examples in 'A Soldiers Like Way' spring to mind.

All the brass ID plates have numerical Identification only.
e.g.
13 for 13th Reg
87 for Rack No
2 for Co

Hope that made sense?
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Mark P.
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Post by Mark P. »

If you want to delve a little deeper the following two books would be of some help.

Redcoats, Yankees and Allies: A History of the Uniforms, Clothing and Gear of the British Army from Heritage books in the US

Redcoat and Brown Bess
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Matt_D
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Post by Matt_D »

I know that by the 1850's (100 years I know) the companys were all numbered apart from the grenadier and light companies which were G and L.

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Post by Mark P. »

Redders wrote:Are we sure the Letter thing isn't a modern variation on what used to be numerical?

I only ask as some written references i've seen all relate to numerical companies. The musket examples in 'A Soldiers Like Way' spring to mind.

All the brass ID plates have numerical Identification only.
e.g.
13 for 13th Reg
87 for Rack No
2 for Co
The musket examples in 'A Soldiers Like Way' are mainly Royal Welsh Fuzilier muskets from Colonial Williamsburg. They are discussed in fuller detail in '18th Century Weapons of the Royal Welsh Fuziliers' by Erik Goldstein. The gist of it seems to be that earlier 1730/40's muskets are marked with company letters and later 1750/60's muskets are marked with company numbers, at least in that Regiment.


Here the 1740 Officer List for Pulteney's to which I have added my suggestion for company letters. Still not sure which would be Grenadiers though?

Colonel Henry Pulteney - Colonels Company A
Lt,Colonel Moses Moreau - Lt Colonels Company B
Major James Cunningham - Majors Company C
Captain James Stuart - 1st Cpt's Company D
Captain Charles Walker - 2nd Cpt's Company E
Captain John Quinchart - 3rd Cpt's Company F
Captain James Charleton - 4th Cpt's Company G
Captain Thomas Cockayne - 5th Cpt's Company H
Captain Robert Bullman - 6th Cpt's Company I
Captain - Maule - 7th Cpt's Company J
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Post by Mark P. »

OK, I found this in Redcoat and Brown Bess by Anthony D Darling.

Company and rack number markings (the private number usually between 1 and 50 that was kept on the company rolls by a sergeant) also appear. ........... As early as 1728 some companies utilized the wrist escutcheon for this, a method which became universal later on. The butt tang, during the early years, was usually reserved for the company commander's name, or if of field grade, usually his rank only. During the entire period, the three senior companies were captained by the colonel, lieutenant colonel, and major respectively, and were lettered A, B, and C. In some instances companies were designated by a number: the Pocock musket is marked "C 3" for the major's company on the barrel; the butt tang is inscribed "Majrs Compy." One musket illustrated is from company "B", but has the lieutenant-colonel's name and rank on the butt tang. Each of the three senior companies was actually command by a captain-lieutenant (I think only the Colonels company was commanded by a captain-lieutenant MP) . "D" Company was the first captain's company; "E" the second captain's, and so on. The Grenadier Company muskets were marked "GR,"
Pulteney's Regiment
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